HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – An annual report shows tourism revenue has increased to surpass pre-pandemic levels in Garland County. The CEO of Visit Hot Springs said a return to community events is a major reason.

The report, compiled by Little Rock-based InVeritas, showed tourism revenue increased from last year. When broken down, that revenue is up 2.4% compared to pre-pandemic numbers.

“We’re seeing a lot of new restaurants trying to relocate, hotels, attractions,” said Steve Arrison, the CEO of Visit Hot Springs. “Property is selling left and right as you look and go through Hot Springs right now.”

Arrison said these numbers should be attractive to developers. There are several notable vacant properties in the city right now, including the old Majestic Hotel site.

“We’re being discovered,” Arrison said. “We have a lot of developers looking. I think it’s just a matter of time on that Majestic site.”

Businesses in the city have noticed an uptick in customers. Lillian Stevens works for the Hot Springs Hat Company, but she worked downtown throughout the pandemic.

“It was pretty slow,” Stevens said. “We did get a tiny bit of traffic, but for the most part, if we did it was just locals trying to keep people busy,” Stevens said.

Stevens said the additional tourists have made for better profits and livelihoods.

“We always enjoy our days when we have lots of people coming in,” Stevens said. “We enjoy our days when we’re meeting people, talking to them about their lives and just making conversation, really.”